Quotes in English

22. sept., 2020

"If, for example, one accepts the postulate that the calamity of our times is the "barbarity of the Muslim world," the observation of Iraq might only reinforce this impression. A bloodthirsty tyrant who reigned by terror for a third of a century, who bled his people, who squandered oil money on military and sumptuary expenses, who invaded his neighbors, who defied the powers that be, who multiplied the romps, to the admiring applause of the Arab crowds, before collapsing without any real struggle; then, as soon as man fell, the country sank into chaos, and the different communities began to massacre each other, as if to say it: You see, it took a dictatorship to hold such a people!

If, on the other hand, one adopts as an axiom the "cynicism of the West", the events can be explained in an equally coherent manner: As a prelude, an embargo, which cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of children, without ever depriving the dictator of his cigars, followed by an invasion, decided under false pretexts, in defiance of public opinion as well as international institutions, and motivated, at least in part, by the desire to get their hands on oil resources; from the American victory, a hasty and arbitrary dissolution of the Iraqi army and the state apparatus, and the explicit establishment of communitarianism at the heart of the institutions, as if one had deliberately chosen to plunge the country into permanent instability; as a bonus, the abuses in the Abu-Ghraib prison, the systemic torture, the incessant humiliations, the "collateral damage", the innumerable unpunished blunders, the looting, the mismanagement?

For some, the case of Iraq demonstrates that the Muslim world is impervious to democracy; for others, it reveals the true face of Western-style "democratization". Even in the filmed death of Saddam Hussein, one could see the ferocity of both Americans and Arabs. For me, both speeches are right, and both are wrong. Each one turns in its own orbit, in front of its audience, which understands it half-word, and which does not hear the opposing discourse.

(Free translation from the French Edition)
"

Disordered World : A Vision for the Post-9/11 World, p. 30, Amin Maalouf, 2009
22. sept., 2020

"These insurance companies, associated or grouped with social networks or data managers, will not only require their clients to pay premiums (to insure against illness, unemployment, death, theft, fire, insecurity), but they will also verify that they comply with standards to minimize the risks they will have to run. They will gradually come to dictate global standards (what to eat? what to know? how to drive? how to protect themselves? how to consume? how to produce?). They will penalize smokers, drinkers, the obese, the unemployable, the unprotected, the aggressive, the imprudent, the clumsy, the distracted, the wasteful. Ignorance, exposure to risk, waste, vulnerability will be considered as diseases. Insurance companies will then merge with large database managers such as Google. (…)

For insurance companies to be economically profitable, everyone - private individuals, companies - will have to accept that a third party will verify their compliance with the standards; to do so, everyone will have to agree to be monitored. "Surveillance": The key word of the times to come.

Thus, first of all, "hypersurveillance" will emerge. Technologies will make it possible to know everything about the origins of products and the movement of people, which will also have essential military applications in the more distant future. Sensors and miniature cameras placed in all public and private places, in offices and rest areas, and finally on nomadic objects themselves, including private drones, will monitor the comings and goings of people; the telephone already makes it possible to communicate and be tracked: biometric technologies (fingerprints, iris, hand and face shapes) will make it possible to monitor travelers, workers and consumers. Countless analysis machines will make it possible to monitor the health of a body, a mind or a product.

The unique nomadic object will be permanently locatable. All the data it will contain, including images of everyone's daily life, will be connected, stored and sold to specialized companies and public and private police forces. Individual health and skills data will be kept up to date by private databases that will allow predictive tests to be organized for preventive treatment. The prison itself will be gradually replaced by remote monitoring of home confinement. (…)

Around 2040, the market will not only organize remote monitoring: mass-produced industrial objects will allow everyone to "self-monitor" their own compliance with standards: "self-monitors" will appear. Machines will allow everyone - companies or private individuals - to monitor their consumption of energy, water, raw materials, etc. throughout the world; others will allow them to self-monitor their savings and assets (...). Connected technologies will multiply these means of portable monitoring.

(Free translation from the French Edition)
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A Brief History of the Future: A Brave and Controversial Look at the Twenty-first Century, p. 259, Jacques Attali
22. sept., 2020

"The 21st Century Statecraft initiative, which Hillary Clinton stormed into the State Department in early 2009 with her announcement, now makes sense. This program, whose ambiguous name translates into both "the art of governance" and "statemaking" in the 21st century, aimed to use new technologies to create a direct link between the American state and the people of foreign countries in order to promote U.S. foreign policy without having to go through local government. The initiative also aimed to facilitate the use of these technologies to promote freedom of expression and accelerate the emergence of democratic regimes. The "disruptive" approach, one would say today.

As the protest movements spread to the Near and Middle East, the British press revealed that the US Pentagon had signed a contract with NTrepid, a Californian technology firm, to develop "an online virtual personality management service" enabling US army soldiers to control up to ten false digital identities. The contract stipulates that each fake digital alias must have a credible profile and history, and that the tool must allow 50 soldiers to operate fake identities "without fear of being spotted or identified by even sophisticated adversaries. The U.S. military plans to use the tool to flood forums and networks with messages in Arabic, Farsi, Pashto, and Urdu legitimizing U.S. presence and foreign policy in the Middle East. The military operation for which the tool is intended, called Operation Earnest Voice ("Operation Sincere Speech"!), with a budget of over $200 million, is immediately compared to Chinese attempts to control public opinion.

For Russian leaders, there is no longer any doubt: the American government is instrumentalizing the Arab Spring wave by promoting and facilitating the use of digital means, with the technical and ideological support of Silicon Valley companies. Worse, it would not hesitate to use these technologies to distort public opinion and encourage citizens of foreign countries to follow the political line favored by the United States. In an interview given to the Wall Street Journal in February 2011, Igor Sechin, Vladimir Putin's loyal second in command, castigated "Google executives" for "manipulating the energy of the people" in Egypt. His attacks target in particular Wael Ghonim, at the time managing director of Google in North Africa and the Middle East, who had played a leading role in coordinating citizen mobilizations via social networks (...).

At the same time, Russian analysts, like many others, perceive the risk that instability and the power vacuum will benefit extremist forces, including radical Islamist groups, rather than the establishment of real democracy. In late February 2011, the Russian President warned of the consequences of the "disintegration of large, densely populated states" in the Middle East, which he said could "lead to the rise of power fanatics," resulting in "decades of inflammatory struggle and the spread of extremism. He made these statements during his trip to Vladikavkaz in the Caucasus region, itself plagued by violence by radical Islamists since the fall of the USSR. The choice of location is not insignificant. Russia rightly considers itself considerably more vulnerable than the United States and European countries to the fallout of a destabilization of the Middle East, and particularly to the emergence of an Islamic threat.

(Free translation from French language)
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Cyber. La guerre permanente, Jean-Louis Gergorin, Léo Isaac-Dognin, 2018Cyber. La guerre permanente, p. 48, Jean-Louis Gergorin, Léo Isaac-Dognin, 2018